The May 2013 cessation of the Delta Airlines passenger service to Guyana based on what the airline had said was the “poor performance of the route” was a blow from which Guyana continues to find it difficult to recover, Chief Executive Officer of Roraima Airways Inc Gerry Gouveia has told Stabroek Business.
“It’s difficult to overestimate the various difficulties that we face including those that have to do with the welfare of key sectors of the economy when no major airline is coming our way,” Gouveia declared.
He is seeking to partner with Aruba Airlines to provide a new service from Georgetown to the US, and that initiative is currently engaging the attention of government. Aruba Airlines officials were in Guyana earlier this week for those talks.
“Every additional seat that Guyana can secure on aircraft to North America is good for us,” Gouveia said, though he added that he felt that he was not in a position to go any further on the Aruba Airlines deal until the negotiations with government were concluded.
Returning to the cessation of the Delta service to Guyana, Gouveia said he welcomed every opportunity he got to express his view that the loss of Delta had been “a serious setback” for Guyana. “Once it become clear that Delta was set on leaving I recall suggesting that the president [Donald Ramotar] intervene in an effort to persuade Delta to stay. That did not happen and we have seen what the consequences have been,” Gouveia told this newspaper.
Gouveia, who told Stabroek Business that his company had been seeking to “talk a deal” with Aruba for about two months said that subject to official clearance an Aruba Airlines/Roraima deal will result in daily flights that will facilitate passengers travelling to the United States.
Meanwhile, Gouveia said that earlier agreements with other airlines had opened up Guyana to non-traditional destinations. In this regard he cited the advent of Insel Air in 2014 which he said connected Guyana to 29 destinations on its outward journey.
And even as the Dynamic International Airways service between the United States and Georgetown continues to attract passenger criticism, Gouveia, whose company serves as the local partner insists that the airline has been “a game changer” as far as travel between the United States and Georgetown is concerned. He recalled that one of the consequences of the departure of Delta from Guyana and the decline in the number of airline services to Guyana, was that fares in some instances increased to between US$700 and US$1,800. “What that meant was that for those Guyanese living in the United States who had grown used to carefully saving in order to take that periodic trip home, travel became a challenge.”
And according to the Roraima boss, the advent of Dynamic changed all that. He said that last year Dynamic undertook 224 flights out of New York of which 190 arrived on time, 340 arrived more than an hour late and four were cancelled. Over the period 40,000 passengers were flown to Guyana by Dynamic while 39,000 departed the country on the airline’s outgoing flights. “I would be the first to concede that the service needs to enhance the quality of its customer care but no airline can guarantee that there will be no disruption to its service and when account is taken of the need for improvement in facilitating travel between the United States and other destinations and Guyana I think that Dynamic is filling a critical void, Gouveia said.
And in the course of outlining initiatives Gouveia alluded to the January 2014 introduction of a once-weekly service by the state-owned Venezuelan airline Conviasa and the more recent agreements between Roraima and COPA and Easy Sky to facilitate regional and hemispheric travel.